Lumbar (Degenerative ) Disk Disease | Symptoms, Treatment | MedStar Health

At MedStar Health, our experienced spine surgeons perform thousands of surgeries each year, including those that correct spinal issues associated with lumbar disc disease. We pride ourselves on offering the least invasive surgical options to allow you to recover quickly from surgery and return to your regular life faster.

Our surgeons take the time to explain your unique condition and walk you through your treatment from beginning to end. Our specialists will always encourage non-surgical options when possible and only recommend surgery when necessary.

What is lumbar disc disease?

Also known as degenerative disc disease or degenerative bone disease, lumbar disc disease is a term that describes the natural changes that occur in your spinal discs as you age. These soft, compressible spinal discs are found between each vertebra (spinal bone) and allow your back to bend and twist. Over time, the spinal discs lose fluid and elasticity, which can lead to cracking, herniation, and lower back pain.

What are the causes?

This disease is caused by age-related changes that occur in your spinal discs, including:

  • Loss of fluid in the spinal discs
  • Small cracks or rips in the outer layer of the spinal discs

What are the symptoms?

It is important to visit an orthopedic specialist for an evaluation if you suspect you are suffering from lumbar disc disease. While symptoms will vary from person to person, the most common indicators include:

  • Back pain

  • Limited ability to perform normal activities or sports

  • Pain when bending over

  • Pain in the buttock or legs

  • Pain when reaching up

  • Pain when twisting

How is the disease diagnosed?

MedStar Health is home to experts in a wide range of spinal conditions who have years of experience diagnosing and treating lumbar degenerative disc disease. Your initial exam will likely include the following:

  • Medical history evaluation–Your physician will discuss your medical history with you and any relevant prior medical problems

  • Physical exam–Your doctor will evaluate your lower back and may ask you questions about where you are feeling pain or discomfort

  • Imaging tests–Your orthopedist will also likely conduct imaging studies to rule out other conditions and accurately diagnose your back condition

What are the best treatment options?

Discomfort can be treated using conservative options, including:

  • Avoiding activities that cause pain

  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medication

  • Physical therapy

  • Exercise therapy

If degenerative disc disease causes other conditions, such as herniated disc or lumbar stenosis, you may need other treatments, such as:.